Wisconsin Landfill Program

Wisconsin's Solid Waste Management Program

Wisconsin's solid waste management program has been in place for over 40 years. In the first two decades of the program, efforts were primarily directed toward licensing existing solid waste facilities, closing poorly located or operated facilities and ensuring that new solid waste facilities were properly located, designed, constructed, operated, closed and maintained. During this period, the vast majority of municipal and industrial solid waste generated was landfilled.

In the 1990s, things began to change. Wisconsin's Recycling Law was passed in 1990, with most of the requirements taking effect in 1995. In 1997, ch. NR 538, Wis. Adm. Code, was promulgated, facilitating the beneficial use of industrial byproducts. Prior to 1997, use of industrial byproducts had been on the increase, but had been handled by the department on a case-by-case basis as opposed to the largely self-implementing provisions of NR 538. These two milestones resulted in significant and still-increasing quantities of waste being diverted from landfills.

Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to receive approval of its solid waste program by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Our NR 500 Administrative Code Series provides for thorough, yet practical, regulation of municipal and industrial waste landfills and other solid waste facilities.

As of the summer of 2009, Wisconsin has the following numbers of licensed/regulated facilities in operation: 34 municipal solid waste landfills; 34 industrial waste landfills; 29 construction and demolition waste landfills; 1,336 solid waste (and recyclers) transporters; 88 transfer facilities; 82 solid waste processing and storage facilities; 3 municipal waste combustors; 195 composting facilities (mostly yard waste); and 138 woodburning sites.

The solid waste program strives to ensure proper management of solid waste and works with local governments, private industry, other organizations and individual citizens to increase waste reduction, reuse and recycling. For more information on solid waste management in Wisconsin, please take a look at our solid waste Web pages.

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